Studying abroad is a major college decision and this is what you should consider before you go:
1) Do you have enough money saved?
This is by far the most important question you MUST ask yourself before leaving. When you’re studying abroad, chances are you won’t have a job. When you start traveling between countries your bank account is the first thing to go. SAVE YOUR MONEY. Part-time jobs will earn you a small savings in college, but you’ll be thankful you did.
2) Are you emotionally prepared to separate from friends and family?
Studying abroad requires you to be thousands of miles away from friends and family. Separation from your old way of life can make you feel exhausted. If you’re going through a tough time with family, this may not be the best time to leave the country. If your friends mean everything to you and surviving without them seems ridiculous, rethink your situation and study abroad when you feel the time is right.
3) Will your classes abroad count for credit towards your major?
Talking to your advisor before you study abroad is crucial. But what about Cooking in Italy 101? Yes, the classes offered abroad sound enticing, but blindly stepping into elective classes won’t count for college credit in certain majors. The amount of money invested in studying abroad should benefit you academically. Double-check your schedule to see if your classes are helping or hurting your major.
4) Do you know the language and culture of the country you’ll be staying?
Researching the country you plan on spending six months to one year in is important. Studying abroad allows you the opportunity to discover new cultures, but you shouldn’t walk into a country without knowing the customs. Language is also important. If you’re taking an intro class while abroad, study up before you go. When you know how to say “thank you” in another language when someone holds the door open for you, it can go a long way. Do your research beforehand and you’ll feel confident about entering new territory.
5) What do you hope to learn during your trip?
We all know that leaving your country to study abroad is going to be a wave of partying in a new culture. But what experiences do you think will stick with you the most? What do you need to do to help yourself grow from your surroundings? Asking yourself these questions before you go will help frame your trip into a memorable and educational experience beyond the classroom. Studying abroad can be a waste of your time and money if you don’t want to learn and your future self will be glad you put in the effort.